Managing Sales Activity Effectively in Salesforce

Picture of Dan Bruce
Product Marketing Manager, Varicent Lift

Tracking, completing, and managing sales activity effectively is critical to the long-term success of any growing sales organization. 

Your buyer is receiving different touchpoints, at different times, from different people in your organization – not to mention the sales activity they are receiving from your competitors. To improve sales efficiency and provide a great sales experience to your prospect, it is essential that you align, monitor, and manage sales activity effectively in Salesforce. 

But before we get into how to manage sales activity, let’s talk about why it’s important to manage sales activity.

Why Manage Sales Activity?

Almost every growing company uses sales activity as an indicator of how much work sales reps – especially SDRs (or equivalent role) – are doing. It’s fairly common practice to have the number of sales activities (number of emails, number of calls, number of meetings, etc.) tracked and measured against a performance target.

The problem with this is that it can lead to a spray-and-pray approach to sales outreach and can end up causing sales reps to stray gets away from why we do sales activity in the first place – to move deals forward.

It’s not to say that number of sales activity isn’t important, or that performance targets around sales activity isn’t important – they can be – but this blog post is going to focus more on why we do sales activity and how to align, monitor, and manage them effectively in Salesforce by who did the activity and when they did it.

Something we preach a lot at Lift is to focus on the sales inputs you control to have the biggest impact, and sales activity is one of those sales inputs. Sales activity is something that each and every sales rep is in full control of.

How to Manage Sales Activities That You Control

What sales activity does your team control in the sales process?

  • Who at your sales organization is doing the sales activity?
  • Who is the sales activity to? 
  • When is it happening?
  • How frequently is it happening?
  • What type of sales activity is it – email, call, meeting, LinkedIn message?

By asking these questions of your sales activity consistently, measuring it, and flagging (lack of) activity, you’ll be able to identify when a deal is at risk earlier. You’ll also help your sales reps create better habits that will help them build and maintain a healthier pipeline going forward. 

In this blog I’d like to break down how to manage sales activity into two main buckets:

  1. managing who did the sales activity, and

  2. managing when the sales activity happened.

Managing Sales Activity – Who Did It?

Throughout your sales process, you’ll likely have activity going out from multiple people in your organization to the buyer/the buying team. 

To manage sales activity effectively, you’ll want to be able to track and report on who in your business had the activity, when they performed the activity, and if it was done by the appropriate person for the stage of the sales cycles the buyer was in. 

From your organization, you could have activity come from a number of places based on where the buyer is in the sales cycle:

  • Marketing
  • Sales Development Rep (SDR)
  • Account Executive (AE)
  • Customer Success Managers (CSM)
  • Support

When you’re thinking about how to manage sales activity effectively in Salesforce, it’s important to filter activity to only include activities performed by people who should be involved in the sales cycle. A simple breakdown of that looks something like this:

  • Activity by anyone
  • Activity by the current owner (of the opportunity)

For sales activity tracking with open opportunities we recommend removing activities sent from Marketing, so things like a weekly newsletter don’t end up counting towards a sales activity. You can also choose to ignore things like email “Opens” from Sales Engagement systems like Outreach or Salesloft, as well as chatbot interactions if you’re using a tool like Drift. 

The way you filter sales activity data can have a big impact. We had a customer that had a number of marketing programs running, and when we viewed “last activity by anyone”, their pipeline looked highly engaged. However, when we changed the filter to look at “last activity by current opportunity owner” the picture quickly changed and only 30% of the opportunities had a sales activity in the last 30-days.

Managing Sales Activity – When It Happened

By now we all know that the timing of sales activity can make or break a sale. 

When a hot lead comes in, a quick and personalized sales touch is required to make a good first impression, and then – most likely – it goes into an Outreach sequence or Salesloft cadence to be managed. But for opportunities in open pipeline, it takes more management and organization from the sales rep to manage sales activity through the pipeline stages in Salesforce. 

Sometimes the buyer needs to pitch the product internally and they’ll follow up with you in a week. What if they don’t follow up? 

Sometimes you need a week to prepare something to send over to the buyer and their team. Are you going to remember to send it over while also working the other 20 deals in your pipeline?

Sometimes the buyer ignores your previous 3 emails and 4 calls, because guess what? Their job is also busy, and they just need that one more email to remember that buying your product is a priority for them. 

The point is, the job of a sales rep is a busy one and sometimes things slip through the cracks. The job of your buyer is also a busy one, and things on their end also fall through the cracks. 

So, what can you do to reduce the number of sales opportunities that end up falling through the cracks? Health flag alerts. 

There are two health flag alerts that every company should implement, track, and manage to minimize the number of opportunities that fall through the cracks: 

  1. No activity ever: no activity has happened

  2. No recent activity: some activity has happened, but the last activity was a while ago

Depending on how your team is structured, you can choose to filter the activity for these health flag alerts to be sales activity done specifically by the opportunity owner or sales activity by anyone in sales – generally, we recommend filtering by the opportunity owner in Salesforce. 

No activity ever

This health flag alert means that there are zero sales activity on the opportunity by the opportunity owner in Salesforce and usually means one of three things has happened:

  1. The opportunity owner hasn’t started working the deal yet

  2. The opportunity owner isn’t managing sales activity in Salesforce

  3. The opportunity owner in Salesforce is incorrect

By putting a health flag alert on these opportunities, it solves all three by bringing higher visibility to the opportunity so the sales rep is reminded to put a sales activity on it, or so that it can be assigned to someone else. 

The no activity ever health flag alert is there to ensure that every opportunity is worked, improve the speed in which new opportunities are worked after a handoff (like from SDR to AE), and encourage sales reps to be consistent in logging and managing sales activity in Salesforce. 

No recent activity

This health flag alert signals that there has been activity, but none recently. Depending on the length of your sales cycle, here’s the recency of sales activity we’d recommend setting:

Transactional sales cycle: 7-days
SMB sales cycle: 14-days
Enterprise sales cycle: 30-days

When open opportunities are flagged for no recent activity, it generally happens because:

  1. the sales rep has lost track of the opportunity,

  2. the opportunity is lost out and needs to be closed out,

  3. or there is just a longer than normal gap in touchpoints caused by things like holiday time.

By putting a health flag alert on these opportunities you’re able to catch forgotten deals before they go off track. 

The no recent activity health flag alert is really there to bring visibility to opportunities you haven’t talked to recently, so you can ask the question – should this deal still be open? And if it should, why hasn’t there been an activity in the past 7, 14, 30+ days? 

Manage Sales Rep Activity to Build Healthy Habits That Last

Bringing visibility to sales activity and making it actionable for the sales reps over time will help them to build healthy habits that will help them manage their funnel better and win more deals. 

By using sales activity filters and health flag alerts (no activity ever and no recent activity)  discussed in this blog post you are off to a great start, but there are a number of other things you can implement and track across your sales organization to improve conversion rates at every stage of the sales funnel. 

For a full list of deal health flags and activity filters you should consider implementing to help how you are managing sales activity, check out The Deal Health System.

Picture of Dan Bruce
Product Marketing Manager, Varicent Lift

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